Putting back the Green Line - once we find it
The Green Line-textbook affair has taught Education Minister Yuli Tamir an important lesson about politics. Her colleagues in the government and the Labor Knesset faction, including her friend from Peace Now, Defense Minister Amir Peretz, abandoned her to the right's offensive. The only one who came to her assistance (aside from the Meretz bear hug) was Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Kadima, formerly an advocate of Greater Israel. Perhaps this is another attempt to be somewhat more popular with the guys after angering almost the entire class.
After I publicized her decision to restore the Green Line's lost honor, Prof. Tamir repeated that it is all a matter of education, unconnected to politics. Her former colleagues, Prof. Larissa Fleishman and Prof. Ilan Salomon of the geography department at the Hebrew University, have a different opinion. A study they conducted two years ago, "Where Lies the Green Line - Israeli Students' Mental Map," found a close connection between familiarity with the borders of the state and political views. They discovered that hiding the Green Line actually works against those who oppose restoring it: Students familiar with the June 4, 1967 borders are more likely to join a right-wing student group.
The study was designed to examine the assumption that citizens participating in the public debate about Israel's borders are familiar with the nature and the location of the Green Line. Perception of the borders can be expressed through political identification, activism and voting patterns. In an article published two years ago in the periodical Alpayim, the researchers say that in response to the question: "Where is the Green Line?" they were sometimes asked: "What is the Green Line?" More than two-thirds of those questioned did not know which countries controlled the territories before the Six-Day War.
The two professors decided to poll students, since they comprise a relatively well-educated, active group. It can be reasonably assumed that students are more familiar with the Green Line than other, less educated groups. Moreover, while they were maturing (age 11-18), this population group was exposed to important political events including the Lebanon war, the Oslo Accords and the intifada. Therefore, we can assume that if students are ignorant about the subject, the rest of their age group is even more so. The researchers chose 269 students from the Hebrew University, and 219 students from Bar-Ilan University. Ninety percent of the interviewees were under age 28.
The researchers presented the students with maps of Greater Israel and asked them to draw the Green Line. Ten percent of the students delineated the West Bank as circles, usually around Palestinian cities. Only 37 percent of HU students and 26.5 percent at Bar-Ilan could sketch the West Bank on the map. No more than one-third of the students from Jerusalem and 26 of those from Tel Aviv knew which countries controlled the territories before the Six-Day War. However, the vast majority of those asked knew the Green Line relates to the borders of the state.
At Bar-Ilan, 72 percent of the students identify with right-wing parties, and 19 percent identify with the left, while the opposite ratio is seen among students at HU: 33 percent versus 52 percent, respectively. The study reveals that students who identify with left-leaning parties are more familiar with the location of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, can sketch them more accurately and are also more aware of the nature of borders. They found a clear link between familiarity with the Green Line and political activism. More than one quarter of the HU students had participated in political demonstrations, as compared to 15.7 percent at Bar-Ilan. A similar ratio was found in the reply to the hypothetical question regarding future activism.
In the last stage of the interview, the subjects were shown a map of Israel with accurate cartographical information: the borders of the state, the Green Line and the communities on both sides of it. The students were asked again whether they would participate in future demonstrations. While almost no HU students changed their response (the percentage declined by about 5 percent), activism on the part of Bar-Ilan students rose by 23 percent. The researchers say the increased political motivation may stem from thoughts such as: "I didn't know that these territories (Judea and Samaria) were so large. Should we give them up? Absolutely not." Such thoughts are likely to provide additional encouragement for political activism. MK Zvi Hendel, please note.
On free movement
A comparison between the latest High Court of Justice ruling on the separation fence and the situation on the ground raises doubts about decisions based on defense establishment declarations. No fewer than nine justices, headed by former president Aharon Barak, discussed the petition against the route in the Bir Naballah enclave in northern Jerusalem. The fence has closed the residents of villages - 11,000 people, some of whom have Israeli ID cards - into a large pen. The roads that have for decades connected the villages to Jerusalem and the surrounding urban centers have also been blocked.
In the decision Barak stated, "It's true that had there been no 'fabric of life' roads, we would have decided to treat the fence in the Bir Naballah area like that in the Alfei Menashe enclave" (where the High Court rejected the route - A.E.). However, the president ruled that because some roads there maintain the "fabric of life," the fence does not choke the villages and their residents. He said the connection between the villages and the Ramallah area has been preserved by means of the Bir Naballah-Qalandiyah highway, which is open to traffic and "enables free and unimpeded movement" to the Ramallah area, and via Qalandiyah to Jerusalem. "Given the great security advantage the fence offers in this area," ruled the High Court, "it cannot be said that the damage to the Bir Naballah area caused by the fence route is disproportionate."
Had the nine justices driven a few kilometers northward, they would have learned what the "free and unimpeded movement" looks like. The respectable panel could observe the permanent checkpoint placed next to the underground passage beneath Highway 404, behind the village of Qalandiyah. The justices would notice the soldiers at the checkpoint delaying residents returning to the villages in the enclave, and the traffic jam off into the distance. A visit to the Qalandiyah terminal would teach them something about "free and unimpeded movement."
Attorney Jiat Nasser, who has accumulated many High Court-fence hours, says the ruling on Bir Naballah is a great disappointment to anyone who cares about human rights.
"Anyone who visits the enclave and afterward reads the ruling," says the Jerusalem attorney, "will have difficulty believing the court is talking about the same area."
He would have expected that on an issue that affects the lives of more than 10,000 people, eight justices would not make do with the words "I agree" beneath the president's signature. He had hoped they would make an effort to examine alternative solutions that could alleviate the residents' suffering.
Thank you for contributing fire
The Elad association is continuing to play with fire in the powder keg known as Jerusalem's "holy basin." A few months ago, Attorney Danny Seidman of the Ir Amim association told Meron Rapoport of Haaretz that an unholy alliance has been formed between the settlers and their Christian fundamentalist supporters, who want Jerusalem to become the arena for Armageddon. He said they want to turn our conflict into a religious rather than a nationalist one. The mailing list for a flier sent by Elad founder David Beeri (Davideleh to his friends) to "Friends of the City of David" indicates a number of public authorities are playing in this dangerous arena.
In the letter, Beeri enumerates some of the projects that "we wouldn't have been able to promote without you." He apologizes for the fact that "we still cannot tell" about all the projects, and promises, "We will see their results in the near future, God willing." Beeri reports to his friends on the growth of the Jewish community in the City of David, and about the establishment of a new neighborhood on the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Temple Mount, "a subsidiary of the community in the City of David." This is another important stage in the plan to create a Jewish ring around the Old City. Beeri signs his letter with "the momentum is great, but there are still many goals, and we are working intensively to promote and achieve them." We all know that when Davideleh promises, Davideleh keeps his promise.
After the publication of a section from Michael Karpin's recent book, the sons of Prof. Amos De Shalit remarked that their father did not die of cancer, and therefore there is no proof that his illness was related to the leakage of the radioactive substance polonium 210. Karpin mentions that he relied on the journal of Prof. Dror Sadeh and on other evidence maintaining De Shalit was connected to the laboratory exposed to radiation. He says the mistake will be corrected in future editions of the book.